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Ole Miss lands historic recruiting class

BBVA Compass Bowl Football AP

(Below is Ole Miss’ press release on the players added as part of its 2013 recruiting class.)

OXFORD, Miss. – A flurry of excitement surrounded Ole Miss’ Indoor Practice Facility on Wednesday morning as National Letters of Intent from several of the nation’s top high school prospects flooded in.

Ole Miss became the talk of college football for what Hugh Freeze and his staff were able to accomplish on National Signing Day, luring in a consensus top-10 signing class in just their second year at the helm.

The major recruiting services class rankings currently list Ole Miss at No. 2 (247Sports), No. 5 (ESPN), No. 6 (MaxPreps), No. 7 (Rivals) and No. 9 (Scout).

Eleven high school All-Americans, including the nation’s top overall prospect in Robert Nkemdiche (Loganville, Ga.), chose to sign on with Freeze and the Rebels in a historic day for the football program.

“I think today has the possibility of being a program changer,” Freeze said. “Obviously, it’s all on paper right now. We’ll start having to manage expectations now. We’ll still be in the second year of our journey together, but I do think we took a huge step forward today on that journey toward being where we all want to be, and that’s competing for an SEC West championship. We’re thrilled with today.”

The Rebels didn’t just have the college football world abuzz. At one point Wednesday morning, Ole Miss was trending worldwide on Twitter, and it was reported that the Rebels were even the hot topic in the Miami Heat locker room. LeBron James had this to say on his Twitter account: “Ole Miss ain’t messing around today! Big time recruits coming in. SEC is crazy.”

In addition to Nkemdiche, who is the nation’s No. 1 defensive end, Ole Miss reeled in the country’s No. 1 offensive tackle in Laremy Tunsil (Lake City, Fla.), the No. 1 wide receiver in Laquon Treadwell (Crete, Ill.) and the No. 2 safety in Tony Conner (Batesville, Miss.). That quartet highlights a class that includes 16 players rated 4 stars or better by the various recruiting services.

“Our staff – I think we have some of the rising stars in this profession in the way they went about recruiting and building relationships over the course of a year and executing our 12-month plan,” Freeze said. “I thought they were pretty flawless in that in most regards. Also, our players – I can’t give them enough credit. They sold our program.”

The Rebels pulled in prospects from eight states, including Mississippi (eight), Georgia (six), Tennessee (four), Alabama (three), Texas (three), Florida (two), Illinois (one) and Louisiana (one).

By position, the Rebels welcome to the program a balanced class of four offensive linemen, four running backs, three defensive backs, three defensive linemen, three wide receivers, three tight ends, three athletes, two quarterbacks, two linebackers and a kicker.

Nkemdiche will join his older brother, sophomore linebacker Denzel Nkemdiche, on the Rebel roster. Denzel earned All-SEC honors as a redshirt-freshman in 2012 while leading Ole Miss to a turnaround 7-6 season and a victory in the BBVA Compass Bowl. The Rebels were just 2-10 and 0-8 in SEC play in 2011 before Freeze’s arrival.

Tunsil is regarded as the third-best overall prospect in the country by 247Sports.com, Treadwell is rated the nation’s fifth-best player by Rivals.com, and Conner is ranked 24th by MaxPreps and ESPN.com. Other signees among the nation’s top 150 include OL Austin Golson (Prattville, Ala.), RB Kailo Moore (Rosedale, Miss.) and RB Mark Dodson (Memphis, Tenn.).

The Ole Miss class is littered with All-Americans. In addition to all of the previously mentioned players, Ole Miss welcomes SuperPrep All-Americans QB Ryan Buchanan (Jackson, Miss.) and RB Jordan Wilkins (Cordova, Tenn.), Semper Fidelis All-Americans TE A.J. Jackson (Hampton, Ga.) and CB David Kamara (Loganville, Ga.) and MaxPreps All-American K Andy Pappanastos (Montgomery, Ala.).

Freeze was eager to point out the depth of the class, not just the headliners.

“One of the strengths of our class is those 4-star and high 3-stars that we’ve got,” Freeze said.

One such player he singled out was 3-star WR Derrick Jones (Eupora, Miss.).

“Derrick Jones may be one of the hidden gems of this class,” Freeze said. “The guy’s a phenomenal athlete. I’ve seen him play basketball. He plays above the rim. I think he can play a lot of places for us from safety to receiver.”

Freeze also mentioned others like TE Evan Engram (Powder Springs, Ga.) and in-state offensive linemen Davion Johnson (Byhalia) and Daronte Bouldin (Canton) that could surprise people despite not being the most highly ranked prospects in the class.

The Rebels received 22 high school signatures on Wednesday to go with three junior college players and three high schoolers that had already signed. One of those junior college recruits, DT Lavon Hooks (Atlanta, Ga.), is rated by 247Sports.com as the top overall JUCO prospect in the country. Ole Miss also welcomed back ATH Nick Brassell (Batesville, Miss.), who was a starter on both sides of the ball as a freshman before attending East Mississippi Community College this past fall.

(Writer’s note: below the jump are the complete bios of all 28 members of Ole Miss’ 2013 recruiting class.)

Quincy Adeboyejo

WR | 6-3 | 180 | Cedar Hill HS | Cedar Hill, Texas

HIGH SCHOOL: Rated a 4-star recruit, the No. 42 wide receiver in the nation and the No. 43 recruit in Texas by Rivals.com … Rated a 3-star recruit by Scout.com, 247Sports.com and ESPN.com … A member of USA Football’s Under-19 national team that competed at the 2013 International Bowl … Associated Press All-State honorable mention selection after recording 91 catches for 1,265 yards and 17 touchdowns as a senior … Led Cedar Hill to the Texas Class 5A Division 2 state title game … Dallas All-Area second team pick by the Dallas Morning News … Coached in high school by Joey McGuire.

Trey Bledsoe

ATH | 6-2 | 190 | Grenada HS | Grenada, Miss.

HIGH SCHOOL: Rated a 3-star recruit by Rivals.com and ESPN.com … Tabbed the No. 13 recruit in Mississippi and the No. 116 athlete in the nation by ESPN.com … Listed as the No. 16 recruit in Mississippi by Scout.com … Named a top 40 recruit in the state by The Clarion-Ledger … Selected to play in the Bernard Blackwell All-Star Game … Played in just seven games as a senior due to a broken collarbone, but caught 35 passes for 477 yards and five touchdowns … As a junior, totaled 27 receptions for 440 yards with six touchdowns on offense and 30 tackles with three interceptions on defense … Also played basketball … Coached in high school by Lamar Pitcock.

Daronte Bouldin

OL | 6-6 | 310 | Canton HS | Canton, Miss.

HIGH SCHOOL: Listed as a 3-star recruit and the No. 72 offensive tackle in the country by ESPN.com … Scout.com rated him as the 49th-best offensive tackle in the nation and the No. 6 overall prospect in Mississippi … Second team All-State pick by The Clarion-Ledger and the Mississippi Association of Coaches … Ranked the No. 9 in-state prospect on The Clarion-Ledger’s 10 Most Wanted and also named a member of the publication’s Dandy Dozen … Led Canton to the MHSAA Class 5A state playoffs … Participated in the Bernard Blackwell All-Star Game … Coached in high school by Peter Brown.

Nick Brassell

ATH | 6-1 | 180 | East Mississippi CC | Batesville, Miss.

JUNIOR COLLEGE: Competed as a sophomore for East Mississippi Community College under the direction of head coach Buddy Stephens … Rated 4 stars and the No. 13 JUCO prospect in the nation by 247Sports.com … A 4-star JUCO recruit by ESPN.com and Rivals.com … Rated the No. 2 JUCO prospect in the state by The Clarion-Ledger … MACJC first team All-State selection … Helped EMCC to an 8-2 record and the MACJC North Division championship … Caught 48 passes for 663 yards and six touchdowns, while returning six kicks for 130 yards and six punts for 25 yards … Made four tackles with two pass deflections as a defensive back … Had 12 catches for 191 yards and a TD in the semifinal playoff game against Copiah-Lincoln … 2011 (OLE MISS): Played in 12 games with seven starts (six at WR, one at CB) … First Rebel to start on offense and defense in the same season since 1988 … Second on the team in receptions (24), receiving yards (336) and TD catches (2) … Recorded 22 receptions for 290 yards in SEC play … Finished fourth among SEC freshmen in yards per catch (14.0) … Posted 14 tackles and five PBUs at cornerback … Earned first letter … vs. BYU (9/3): Earned the starting nod at flanker in his first collegiate game … Rushed for -1 yards on two carries … vs. Southern Illinois (9/10): Caught his first career pass for 6 yards and also rushed once for a 12-yard gain … at Vanderbilt (9/17): Saw first action on defense and made one tackle, forced a fumble, recovered a fumble and broke up the first two passes thrown his way as a cornerback … vs. Georgia (9/24): Caught two passes for 52 yards and rushed for 14 yards on two carries … Returned his first career punt for an 84-yard touchdown … Also made one tackle as a cornerback … at Fresno State (10/1): Caught one pass for 40 yards and rushed for 14 yards on two carries … Also recorded two tackles and a pass breakup as a cornerback … vs. Alabama (10/15): Had a career-best game on offense and defense, catching four passes for 101 yards, including a career-long 59-yard reception that set up the only touchdown of the game for the Rebels … Also recorded five tackles (all solo) at cornerback … vs. Arkansas (10/22): Caught a career-high eight passes for 70 yards and rushed five times for 17 yards, while recording one tackle and one pass breakup on defense … at Auburn (10/29): Caught a team-high four passes for 32 yards and his first career touchdown–a 10-yard reception … Also rushed four times for 19 yards and made one tackle … at Kentucky (11/5): Made first career start on defense, recording three tackles (one solo), including 0.5 TFL on an assisted sack, and a pass breakup … Also caught three passes for 40 yards and a touchdown while rushing once for 56 yards … vs. LSU (11/19): Caught one pass for a loss of five yards, while rushing once for a loss of 11 yards … Also returned five kickoffs for 93 yards … at Mississippi State (11/26): Returned one kickoff for 18 yards and rushed for 11 yards on three carries … HIGH SCHOOL: A U.S. Army, PrepStar and SuperPrep All-America selection … Listed No. 2 on The Clarion-Ledger’s Top 10 Most Wanted list and was a member of the paper’s Dandy Dozen squad … Earned first team All-State honors from The Clarion-Ledger and was a first team Class 6A All-State pick by the Mississippi Association of Coaches as a senior … A member of the Rivals100 and rated the No. 51 player in the nation by Rivals.com … Ranked the No. 1 player in Mississippi and the No. 7 wide receiver in the nation by Rivals.com … Listed No. 24 on the Mobile Press-Register Super Southeast 120 … Rated the No. 7 wide receiver and the No. 56 overall player in the nation by Scout.com … Listed as the No. 29 wide receiver in the nation by ESPN.com … Rated the No. 1 player in Mississippi by SuperPrep … Participated in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Classic as a senior … Posted 52 receptions for 875 yards and 13 TDs as a senior … Recorded 62 catches for 1,272 yards and 16 TDs as a junior … Won Class 6A state title as a senior and helped squad to Rivals.com High School National Championship as the No. 1 ranked team in the nation … Claimed three state titles in high school … Coached in high school by Lance Pogue.

Eugene Brazley

RB | 5-10 | 180 | G.W. Carver HS | New Orleans, La.

HIGH SCHOOL: Listed as a 4-star recruit, the No. 38 running back in the nation and No. 20 prospect from Louisiana by ESPN.com … Rated the No. 26 running back in the nation and No. 13 prospect from Louisiana by 247Sports.com … Rated the No. 14 all-purpose back in the country by Rivals.com … Tom Lemming lists him as the 10th-best wingback in the nation … Listed No. 31 on the Times-Picayune’s Nifty 50 … All-State honorable mention by the Louisiana Sports Writers Association … Also received All-District 9-2A and All-New Orleans Area small school honors … Rushed for 1,040 yards and 15 touchdowns as a senior, while also making 18 catches for 279 yards and three TDs … Led G.W. Carver to the LHSAA Class 2A state quarterfinals … As a junior, rushed for 487 yards and six TDs and caught 13 passes for 149 yards … Had 342 rushing yards and four TDs as a sophomore and 466 yards and five TDs as a freshman … Coached in high school by Bryon Addison.

Ryan Buchanan

QB | 6-4 | 205 | Jackson Prep | Jackson, Miss.

HIGH SCHOOL: A SuperPrep All-America selection … Listed as a 4-star recruit by ESPN.com, Scout.com and Rivals.com … Rated the No. 15 pocket passer in the nation and third-best player in Mississippi by ESPN.com … Rated the No. 19 pro-style QB by Rivals.com and the No. 32 QB in the country by Scout.com … A member of the ESPN 300, ranking No. 193 overall … Rated the No. 3 player in Mississippi by Scout.com and No. 5 by Rivals.com … Listed No. 6 on The Clarion-Ledger’s 10 Most Wanted and a member of the publication’s Dandy Dozen … All-State first team pick by the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools and second team by The Clarion-Ledger as a senior … Passed for 1,468 yards and 22 touchdowns while leading Jackson Prep to the MAIS-AAA Division 1 state championship … Participated in the MAIS All-Star Game … Led Prep to a state runner-up finish as a junior, passing for 1,326 yards and 14 TDs and rushing for 433 yards in his first season as the starting QB … Also played basketball … Coached in high school by Ricky Black.

Tony Conner

S | 6-2 | 205 | South Panola HS | Batesville, Miss.

HIGH SCHOOL: An Under Armour and SuperPrep All-America selection … Rated a 5-star prospect by Scout.com and 247Sports.com … Listed as the No. 2 safety in the nation by Tom Lemming, 247Sports.com and ESPN.com … Rated the top prospect in Mississippi by Scout.com and ESPN.com … Rated the No. 24 overall recruit in the nation by MaxPreps and ESPN.com, No. 25 by 247Sports.com and No. 31 by Scout.com … Listed No. 2 on The Clarion-Ledger’s 10 Most Wanted and a member of the publication’s Dandy Dozen … Helped South Panola to three Class 6A state championships in his four years as a starter … Named Mississippi’s Mr. Football and first team All-State by The Clarion-Ledger as a senior … Named Class 6A Defensive Player of the Year by the Mississippi Association of Coaches … Recorded 74 tackles with three interceptions and 19 passes defended to lead the Tigers to a state title as a senior … Had seven tackles, two TFLs and a pass breakup in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Game … Three-time Mississippi Association of Coaches All-State honoree, including as a running back his junior season when he rushed for 1,472 yards and 22 touchdowns … Posted 23 tackles and two interceptions as a junior … Coached in high school by Lance Pogue.

Mark Dodson

RB | 5-10 | 193 | Whitehaven HS | Memphis, Tenn.

HIGH SCHOOL: 2012 Tennessee Gatorade Player of the Year … Led Whitehaven to a 15-0 record and the 2012 Tennessee 6A state title a year after finishing runner-up … Rated a 4-star recruit by all of the major scouting services … Ranked the nation’s No. 5 all-purpose back and No. 149 overall prospect by Rivals.com … Ranked the No. 13 RB in the country by Tom Lemming, No. 22 by 247Sports.com, No. 26 by ESPN.com and No. 35 by Scout.com … Rated the No. 5 player in Tennessee by Rivals.com, No. 7 by ESPN.com and No. 8 by 247Sports.com … A first team Class 6A All-State selection by the Tennessee Sports Writers Association as a senior … District 16-AAA Player of the Year … Rushed for 3,295 yards and 37 touchdowns as a senior … Ran for 318 yards and five TDs in the state championship game against Maryville, scoring the 2-point conversion that won the game in overtime … Finished his prep career as the all-time leading rusher in Shelby County history with nearly 7,000 yards … Played in the City of Memphis All-Star Game … Rushed for 2,100 yards on 110 carries with 28 TDs as a junior en route to TSWA 6A All-State honors … Finalist for the 2011 Tennessee Mr. Football Class AAA Back award … Rushed for 1,500 yards and 22 TDs as a sophomore … Coached in high school by Rodney Saulsberry.

Evan Engram

TE | 6-3 | 210 | Hillgrove HS | Powder Springs, Ga.

HIGH SCHOOL: Listed as a 3-star recruit and the No. 22 tight end in the nation by Scout.com … Rated the No. 27 TE in the country by ESPN.com … Named first team All-State as a senior by the Georgia Sportswriters Association and the Associated Press … All-State honorable mention by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution … Hauled in 40 catches for 975 yards and 10 touchdowns as a senior … Caught 18 passes for 300 yards and four touchdowns as a junior, helping Hillgrove go 11-1 and advance to the second round of the state playoffs … Caught two touchdowns in the Cobb County All-Star Senior Bowl … Coached in high school by Phillip Ironside.

Austin Golson

OL | 6-6 | 290 | Prattville HS | Prattville, Ala.

HIGH SCHOOL: A U.S. Army and SuperPrep All-America selection … Tabbed a 4-star prospect by all the major recruiting services … Rated the 52nd-best prospect in the nation and No. 3 offensive tackle by ESPN.com … Ranked No. 118 overall and the eighth-best OT by Rivals.com … Ranked the No. 4 recruit in Alabama by ESPN.com and No. 8 by Rivals.com and 247Sports.com … Rated No. 10 on AL.com’s A-List of top senior football players in Alabama … Played in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Game … Nominated for the AHSAA Class 6A Lineman of the Year award … Two-time Class 6A All-State first teamer by the Alabama Sports Writers Association … Helped Prattville claim the Class 6A state title his junior season, paving the way for an offense that racked up 3,458 rushing yards and 50 touchdowns … Coached in high school by Chad Anderson.

Bobby Hill

DB | 6-0 | 165 | Colquitt County HS | Moultrie, Ga.

HIGH SCHOOL: Rated a 3-star recruit and the No. 93 cornerback in the country by Scout.com … Named a second team All-State pick as a wide receiver by the Georgia Sportswriters Association and Associated Press as a senior … Led Colquitt County to the semifinals of the 2012 Class 6A state playoffs while making 78 catches for 1,046 yards and six touchdowns … Led Colquitt County to the semifinals as a junior, as well, racking up 40 catches for 880 yards and eight TDs … Coached in high school by Rush Propst.

Lavon Hooks

DT | 6-4 | 290 | Northeast Mississippi CC | Atlanta, Ga.

JUNIOR COLLEGE: Played two seasons at Northeast Mississippi Community College under head coach Ricky Smither … NJCAA Honorable Mention All-American as a sophomore … Among all JUCO prospects in the nation, rated No. 1 by 247Sports.com, No. 11 by Scout.com and No. 15 by ESPN.com … Tabbed the nation’s No. 1 defensive tackle by JCGridiron.com … Rated the No. 1 JUCO prospect in the state by The Clarion-Ledger … Selected first team All-State and All-Region XXIII and the state’s Most Valuable Defensive Lineman by the MACJC … Tied for second in the state and region with 9.5 sacks and ranked second among all JUCO players in the nation with 20.5 tackles for loss … Tallied 51 total tackles and had three forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries … Recorded 30 tackles, 3.0 sacks and 3.5 TFLs as a freshman … Also played basketball at Northeast, leading the conference in rebounding as a freshman … Spent his first semester of junior college playing basketball for Marion Military Institute (Marion, Ala.) … HIGH SCHOOL: Graduated from Meadowbrook High School in Norcross, Ga., playing football and basketball there … Averaged 18 points and 12 rebounds for the hoops team as a senior … Participated in football and basketball at Brookwood High School (Snellville, Ga.) in ninth and 10th grades.

A.J. Jackson

TE | 6-6 | 240 | Lovejoy HS | Hampton, Ga.

HIGH SCHOOL: Selected as a Semper Fidelis All-American … Rated the nation’s 15th-best tight end by Tom Lemming, 16th by 247Sports.com, 22nd by Rivals.com and 23rd by Scout.com … A consensus 3-star prospect … Listed the No. 33 prospect in Georgia by 247Sports.com, No. 38 by the Macon Telegraph and No. 39 by Rivals.com … Member of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution Super 75 … Named a second team All-State tight end by the Georgia Sportswriters Association and Associated Press … An All-Region 2-6A first team pick at wide receiver … Led Lovejoy to the Georgia Class 6A state championship game as a junior and senior … Caught 16 passes for 151 yards and four touchdowns as a junior … Also served as Lovejoy’s long snapper … Played in the 2011 AT&T Georgia Junior Bowl … Coached in high school by Al Hughes.

Davion Johnson

OL | 6-4 | 315 | Byhalia HS | Byhalia, Miss.

HIGH SCHOOL: Rated a 3-star prospect by all the major recruiting services and the No. 39 offensive tackle in the country by Scout.com … Listed as the No. 68 offensive guard in the nation by 247Sports.com and the No. 84 offensive tackle by ESPN.com … Scout.com ranks him the seventh-best player in Mississippi, while ESPN.com has him 12th and Rivals.com 13th … Listed among the top 40 recruits in the state by The Clarion-Ledger and a member of the publication’s Dandy Dozen … Led Byhalia to the MHSAA Class 3A state quarterfinals … Played in the Bernard Blackwell All-Star Game … Coached in high school by John Danley.

Derrick Jones

WR | 6-2 | 185 | Eupora HS | Eupora, Miss.

HIGH SCHOOL: Tabbed a 3-star prospect by all the major recruiting services … Rated the 61st-best wide receiver in the country by Rivals.com and No. 89 by Scout.com … Listed as the ninth-best recruit in Mississippi by Scout.com and ESPN.com … Listed among the top 40 recruits in the state by The Clarion-Ledger … Caught a 41-yard touchdown pass in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Game … Named a first team All-State receiver by The Clarion-Ledger and the Mississippi Association of Coaches … Caught 44 passes for 975 yards and 15 touchdowns to help Eupora reach the Class 2A state title game … Also had 39 tackles and six interceptions on defense … All-District selection in football and basketball … Coached in high school by Junior Graham.

David Kamara

CB | 5-10 | 185 | Grayson HS | Loganville, Ga.

HIGH SCHOOL: Selected as a Semper Fidelis All-American … Rated the No. 70 cornerback in the nation by Rivals.com and No. 85 by ESPN.com … A 3-star recruit according to Rivals.com, Scout.com and ESPN.com … Named to the Gwinnett Daily Post All-County third team as a senior after helping Grayson win the Region 8-6A championship … Helped Grayson win the Class 5A state title and compile a 15-0 record en route to a No. 4 ranking by USA Today his junior season when he posted 59 tackles and four interceptions … Coached in high school by Mickey Conn … High school teammate of Rebel All-SEC linebacker Denzel Nkemdiche and fellow Ole Miss signee Robert Nkemdiche

Devante Kincade

QB | 6-1 | 185 | Skyline HS | Dallas, Texas

HIGH SCHOOL: Rated a 4-star recruit by ESPN.com and Scout.com … Listed as the 12th-best dual-threat quarterback in the nation by ESPN.com and No. 18 by 247Sports.com … Scout.com ranks him as the 26th-best QB overall … Tom Lemming has him as the No. 19 combo QB … Ranked the No. 38 prospect in Texas by ESPN.com … A member of the ESPN 300 … MVP of the 2012 Dallas Elite 11 regional camp and one of 25 finalists for the national Elite 11 camp … The District 9-5A MVP and an All-State honorable mention pick by the Associated Press as a senior … Completed 178-of-281 passes for 2,856 yards, 38 touchdowns and eight interceptions, while rushing for 861 yards and 12 TDs during his final prep campaign … Was a second team All-State pick as a junior when he led Skyline to the Class 5A state semifinals and passed for 3,270 yards, 37 TDs and eight picks while rushing for 857 yards and 17 scores … Passed for 1,627 yards with 17 TDs and seven picks as a sophomore … Coached in high school by Reginald Samples.

Quadarias Mireles

ATH | 5-11 | 185 | Hinds CC | Delray Beach, Fla.

JUNIOR COLLEGE: Played two seasons at Hinds Community College under head coach Gene Murphy … Rated the No. 8 JUCO prospect in the nation by ESPN.com … Rated a 4-star JUCO prospect by ESPN.com and 3-star by Scout.com, Rivals.com and 247Sports.com … Two-time MACJC All-State selection … As a sophomore, led Hinds in receptions (38), kickoff returns (11) and kickoff return yards (204) en route to 828 all-purpose yards … Rushed the ball 47 times for 259 yards and two TDs and added 365 receiving yards and two receiving TDs … As a freshman, hauled in 45 catches for 703 yards and had 10 rushes for 110 yards … HIGH SCHOOL: Rated the No. 85 WR in the nation by Scout.com … Ranked the No. 94 WR in the country by ESPN.com … Caught 26 passes for 426 yards and four TDs as a senior … Also ran for 172 yards and one TD … Caught 17 passes for 341 yards and two TDs as a junior … Coached in high school by Andre Thaddeus.

Herbert Moore

DT | 6-2 | 330 | Memphis East | Memphis, Tenn.

HIGH SCHOOL: Listed as the nation’s 56th-best defensive tackle by Rivals.com and 59th by ESPN.com … A consensus 3-star recruit … Rated the No. 16 prospect in Tennessee by Rivals.com and No. 17 by ESPN.com … Selected to play for Team USA Football at the 2012 IFAF Under-19 World Championship … Played in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl All-Star Game and the City of Memphis All-Star Game following his senior year … Named All-District 16-AAA first team … Recorded 54 tackles, 13 tackles for loss, four sacks, four fumble recoveries and one defensive touchdown as a senior … Had 46 tackles and eight sacks as a junior … Coached in high school by Marcus Wimberly.

Kailo Moore

RB | 5-10 | 190 | West Bolivar HS | Rosedale, Miss.

HIGH SCHOOL: Selected as a Semper Fidelis and SuperPrep All-American … Rated a 4-star prospect by all the major recruiting services … Listed as the sixth-best all-purpose back and No. 93 overall recruit in the nation by 247Sports.com … Listed as the No. 10 running back in the country by Tom Lemming and No. 19 by Scout.com and ESPN.com … Member of the Scout 300 and ESPN 300 … Played in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Game … Listed No. 4 on The Clarion-Ledger’s 10 Most Wanted and a member of the publication’s Dandy Dozen … Earned first team All-State honors from The Clarion-Ledger and the Mississippi Association of Coaches as both a junior and senior … Rushed for 1,218 yards and scored 18 touchdowns while leading West Bolivar to the quarterfinals of the Class 2A state playoffs as a senior … Also had three interceptions on defense … As a junior, rushed for 1,470 yards and 19 TDs, leading the Eagles to a 15-1 record and the MHSAA Class 2A state championship … Set a school record with five TDs in one game … Coached in high school by Henry Johnson … Also a standout sprinter on the track, he was named Mississippi’s Mr. Track and Field by The Clarion-Ledger as a junior … Competed in the 100 meters and 200 meters at the 2011 USA Junior Outdoor Track & Field Championships … Eleven-time state 2A champion during his high school track career … Won the state 2A 100-meter dash three times and the 200 twice, including as an eighth grader … Best times of 10.30 in the 100 and 21.22 in the 200.

Christian Morgan

TE | 6-4 | 255 | Prestonwood Christian Academy | Plano, Texas

HIGH SCHOOL: A 4-star prospect and the No. 11 TE in the nation according to Scout.com … Ranked the No. 12 TE in the nation by Tom Lemming, No. 16 by Rivals.com and No. 24 by 247Sports.com … Ranked the No. 12 TE-Y by ESPN.com … Rivals.com lists him as the No. 55 player in the state of Texas … A converted offensive lineman known primarily for his blocking ability, but still caught 31 passes for 497 yards and five TDs as a senior … Had 16 catches for 226 yards as a junior … Coached in high school by Chris Cunningham.

Robert Nkemdiche

DE | 6-5 | 270 | Grayson HS | Loganville, Ga.

HIGH SCHOOL: The consensus No. 1 overall recruit and top defensive end in the nation … An Under Armour, USA Today, MaxPreps and SuperPrep All-America selection as a senior … Also earned All-America honors from USA Today as a junior … Three-time All-State selection by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Associated Press and Georgia Athletic Coaches Association … Racked up 41 career sacks during his high school career … Named the Gwinnett Daily Post County Defensive Player of the Year as a senior after recording 59 tackles, 12 tackles for loss and seven sacks to help Grayson win the Region 8-6A championship … Led a defense that allowed only 11 points a game … Also rushed for 235 yards and 10 touchdowns on offense … Tabbed the All-Class Player of the Year (AJC, Associated Press), Gwinnett Daily Post County Defensive Player of the Year and Touchdown Club of Gwinnett Athlete of the Year after his junior season in which he led Grayson to a 15-0 record, Class 5A state title and a No. 4 national ranking by USA Today … Posted 59 tackles and 18 sacks as a junior, while rushing for 528 yards and 17 touchdowns … Played in the AT&T Georgia Junior Bowl … Younger brother of the Rebels’ All-SEC linebacker Denzel Nkemdiche … High school teammate of fellow Ole Miss signee David Kamara … Coached in high school by Mickey Conn.

Andy Pappanastos

K | 5-11 | 180 | Trinity Presbyterian | Montgomery, Ala.

HIGH SCHOOL: Named an All-American by Kohl’s Kicking and MaxPreps U.S. Air Force … Three-time Class 3A All-State selection … Set the Alabama high school career record for field goals made with 48, which was two shy of the national record … His 279 career kicking points scored are third all-time in Alabama high school history … Named All-Metro 1A-4A Player of the Year by the Montgomery Advertiser … Named the Montgomery QB Club Private School Player of the Year … Four-year starting kicker and three-year starting safety for Trinity … A two-year starter and first team All-Metro pick in soccer … Coached in high school by Randy Ragsdale.

Marcus Robinson

LB | 6-4 | 210 | Memphis East HS | Memphis, Tenn.

HIGH SCHOOL: Ranked the No. 26 inside linebacker in the country by Rivals.com and the No. 36 outside linebacker by Scout.com … A consensus 3-star recruit … Listed as the No. 13 player in Tennessee by Rivals.com, No. 18 by 247Sports.com and No. 19 by ESPN.com … Named a Class 5A All-State first team LB by the Tennessee Sports Writers Association as a senior … Played in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl All-Star Game and the City of Memphis All-Star Game following his senior year … Named All-District 16-AAA first team … Recorded 84 tackles and two interceptions on defense and 12 catches for 234 yards and three touchdowns on offense as a senior … Had 92 tackles, 13 TFLs, four forced fumbles and an interception as a junior … Invited to the 2012 Nike football combine “The Opening” … Also played basketball … Coached in high school by Marcus Wimberly.

Ray Ray Smith

LB | 6-3 | 210 | Florence HS | Florence, Ala.

HIGH SCHOOL: Listed as a 3-star prospect by all the major recruiting services and the No. 72 outside linebacker in the country by ESPN.com … Rated the 20th-best player in Alabama by Rivals.com and 24th by ESPN.com … Played in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Game … Named a first team Class 4A-6A All-State linebacker by the Times Daily and Class 6A honorable mention by the Alabama Sports Writers Association … Made 88 tackles with 12 tackles for loss and seven sacks as a senior … Led Florence to the AHSAA Class 6A state playoffs … Also played basketball and competed in the javelin and high jump in track … Coached in high school by Jamey DuBose.

Laquon Treadwell

WR | 6-3 | 198 | Crete-Monee HS | Crete, Ill.

HIGH SCHOOL: An Under Armour, USA Today, MaxPreps and SuperPrep All-America selection … Rated a 5-star recruit by Rivals.com, Scout.com, 247Sports.com and MaxPreps and the nation’s No. 1 wide receiver by Tom Lemming, Rivals.com and ESPN.com … Listed as the No. 5 overall recruit in the nation by Rivals.com, No. 6 by MaxPreps, No. 19 by ESPN.com, No. 28 by 247Sports.com and No. 30 by Scout.com … Regarded as Illinois’ top football recruit in 2013 … Had six catches for 46 yards in the Under Armour All-America Game … One of 16 final candidates for the 2013 U.S. Army Player of the Year … Named the Chicago Tribune Player of the Year, NWI Times Offensive Player of the Year and All-State first team as a senior … Led Crete-Monee to the Class 6A state title and hauled in 81 catches for 1,424 yards and 16 touchdowns, while rushing for 257 yards and seven more TDs on the ground … Also had 56 tackles and six interceptions on defense … Named the NWI Times Offensive Player of the Year, Southland Conference Offensive Player of the Year and a first team All-State pick as a junior when he recorded 75 catches for 1,391 yards and 18 touchdowns … Also had 45 tackles, 10 TFLS and eight sacks on defense as a junior … A three-time All-Area selection … Had 58 catches for 811 yards and seven TDs as a sophomore … High school teammate of current Ole Miss defensive back Anthony Standifer … Coached in high school by Jerry Verde.

Laremy Tunsil

OL | 6-6 | 320 | Columbia HS | Lake City, Fla.

HIGH SCHOOL: A U.S. Army, USA Today, MaxPreps and SuperPrep All-America selection … A consensus 5-star recruit and No. 1-rated offensive tackle in the nation by all the major recruiting services … Rated the nation’s No. 3 overall recruit by 247Sports.com, No. 5 by ESPN.com, No. 7 by Scout.com and MaxPreps and No. 14 by Rivals.com … Listed as Florida’s top recruit by 247Sports.com and second-best by Rivals.com … Ranked No. 5 on the Orlando Sentinel’s Florida Top 100 and No. 1 on the paper’s North Florida Super60 … Florida Dairy Farmers Class 6A Player of the Year … First team Class 6A All-State pick by the Associated Press … Helped Columbia run for 275 yards per game en route to the Class 6A state quarterfinals … Associated Press All-State first team selection as a junior, as well … Coached in high school by Brian Allen.

Jordan Wilkins

RB | 6-1 | 210 | St. Benedict at Auburndale HS | Cordova, Tenn.

HIGH SCHOOL: A SuperPrep All-America selection … A consensus 4-star prospect by all the major recruiting services … Rated the No. 9 all-purpose back in the nation by 247Sports.com and the nation’s No. 10 big back by Tom Lemming … Listed as the 20th-best running back by Rivals.com and 21st by ESPN.com … A member of the ESPN 300 … Three-time Division 2-AA All-State selection by the Tennessee Sports Writers Association … Rushed for 1,041 yards and 14 touchdowns in just seven games as a senior before suffering a season-ending knee injury … An honorary selection to the AutoZone Liberty Bowl All-Star Game and City of Memphis All-Star Game … Rushed for 1,546 yards and 18 touchdowns as a junior and was one of three finalists for the Division 2-AA Back of the Year … Also played basketball … Younger brother of Vanderbilt wide receiver Trey Wilkins … Coached in high school by Michael Davidson.

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Gamecocks’ leading tackler won’t start in opener vs. A&M

North Carolina v South Carolina

Mike Davis will be there for the opener, but one of South Carolina’s top players on the other side of the ball won’t be.  At least, not at the start.

Defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward confirmed Skai Moore will not start the opener against Texas A&M Thursday night.  Why?  It appears the coaching staff is looking to send a message to the linebacker and, by extension, the entire team.

“He’ll play. He’ll play early,” the coordinator said. “Just got to make sure he does what he’s supposed to do when you ask him to do something.”

With the sophomore Moore sidelined, fellow sophomore Jonathan Walton will get the starting nod against the Aggies.

Last season as a true freshman, Moore led the team in both tackles (56) and interceptions (four). For that, he was named by the coaches as a first-team Freshman All-SEC performer.

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Outland Trophy candidate won’t start at center for Beavers

Oregon State v Washington State

One of college football’s finest centers won’t be on the field during the first weekend of play when the Oregon State Beavers host the Portland State Vikings .

Junior Isaac Seumalo, who was named to the Outland Trophy watch list, is still recovering from a broken foot he suffered during the Hawaii Bowl against the Boise State Broncos. Junior Josh Mitchell will start in Seumalo’s place, according to the Oregonian.

Oregon’s offensive line as a whole was in upheaval until recent weeks. Junior Gavin Andrews was moved from right to left tackle a little over two weeks ago. Sophomore Sean Harlow will start at right tackle.

“(It’s) pretty good, considering there’s been some juggling and movement and some late injuries that forced us into some decisions about where to put people,” Beavers coach Mike Riley told the Oregonian‘s Gina Mizell. “I think it’s still a group that will be good and has a chance to get better.”

A return date for Seumalo wasn’t provided. The Beavers play the Hawaii Warriors Sept. 6, and Seumalo could return to the field where he was originally injured. The coaching staff may even look at the schedule and realize it doesn’t need Seumalo in the lineup until the third game of the season. The Beavers enjoy an early bye week and then host the San Diego Aztecs Sept. 20.

Once Seumalo returns, he may not be reinserted at center. Riley has expressed an interest in Seumalo playing right guard this season. Mitchell’s play through first game or two will dictate exactly where Riley can eventually play his best offensive lineman.

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WVU QB admits first smooch was with Nick Saban’s daughter

Nick Saban

A first kiss is a special moment in a person’s life. If you’re West Virginia quarterback Clint Trickett, it’s a moment that can come back and haunt you during the Mountaineers’ season opener against the Alabama Crimson Tide.

Trickett revealed a little secret about himself during his Tuesday meeting with local media. His first kiss was with the daughter of Alabama head coach Nick Saban.

Whether or not this was a smart choice to make this public just prior to playing one of the most inventive defensive coaches in college football history is certainly in question.

Saban’s reputation as one of the most intimidating coaches in college football is well known. He could use this as an opportunity to overwhelm the Mountaineers’ offense and crush Trickett with a variety of blitz packages.

Or, Saban can take this in stride and think nothing of it. His main concern will be defeating the Mountaineers. Nothing more, nothing less.

The latter situation is far more likely, but it’s fun to think about Saban defending the honor of his daughter in a gladiatorial game of chess in which the likely outcome is Alabama emerging victorious.

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UPDATE: Sister speaks on Josh Shaw’s behalf

USC v California Getty Images

Sometimes a story is too good to be true. Could this be the latest example of that adage at work?

USC is opening an internal investigation into the story of senior cornerback Josh Shaw saving his nephew from drowning. The story shared by USC’s athletics website was inspirational and a touching one. Shaw reportedly suffered a pair of high ankle sprains while allegedly leaping from a second floor balcony into a pool below to save his nephew, who cannot swim.

A day later, USC head coach Steve Sarkisian says there may be conflicting information regarding how the injury to Shaw’s ankles were suffered.

For now, USC is keeping Shaw from meeting with the media until the university can confirm the information regarding the injuries.

UPDATE (5:00 p.m. ET): According to information obtained by NBC News, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s officials said they have no record of any calls to their Palmdale station for service involving Shaw or a family member due to a near drowning.

UPDATE (8:00 p.m. ET): Josh Shaw’s older sister, Asia Shawspoke with USA TODAY on behalf of her brother. She confirmed the initial report of the football player saving his nephew — her son — but wouldn’t comment on any “speculation” that Josh Shaw injured himself during a burglary.

“The one who was supposed to be watching him turned away for a second,” she said. “And Josh, who is on the balcony, saw the incident and reacted.”

Asia Shaw also confirmed no authorities were involved in the matter since her son didn’t experience any respiratory impairment.

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Brian Kelly: Everett Golson is ‘taking next step of leadership’

Brian Kelly, Everett Golson

When Everett Golson was readmitted to Notre Dame, the quarterback had to prove himself all over again.

Golson started 11 games in 2012, including the BCS National Championship Game, but he wasn’t handed the starting position upon his return. Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly eventually named Golson the team’s starting quarterback Aug 13. Since then, Golson has grown into a legitimate leader within the program.

Kelly discussed Golson’s evolving status as a leader and updated the team’s injury situation during his Tuesday meeting with the media:

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Report: North Carolina investigates alleged hazing

Larry Fedora

It seems academic fraud, illicit benefits and NCAA sanctions weren’t embarrassing enough for the North Carolina Tar Heels football program.

Head coach Larry Fedora was eventually hired to replace the ousted Butch Davis and interim coach Everett Withers to give the program a fresh slate. Instead, Fedora is going to be  mired in yet another controversy within the program.

Allegations of hazing have been reported, according to Yahoo Sports.

“During the first week of August, redshirt freshman walk-on wide receiver Jackson Boyer was involved in an alleged physical altercation with multiple teammates in his room at the A-Loft hotel in Chapel Hill where the team was staying during fall camp. … The incident allegedly left Boyer with a concussion,” sources told Yahoo Sports’ Eric Adelson and Pat Forde.

The university addressed the report.

“We are aware of an incident involving members of the UNC football team that took place earlier this month. We take this allegation seriously and the University is conducting a thorough review,” Kevin Best, North Carolina’s assistant athletic director for communications, told Yahoo Sports.

If the university finds the allegations to be true, the players involved should expect to be disciplined.

“The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is committed to fostering organizations that provide a positive and safe environment for new and existing members,” the UNC Office of the Dean of Students stated. “To that end, UNC expressly prohibits hazing or any activity that puts a student’s physical, emotional or psychological health and safety at risk. The Instrument of Student Judicial Governance defines hazing as action, ‘that causes or permits an individual, with or without consent, to engage in activities that subject that individual or others to risks of physical injury, mental distress, or personal indignities of a highly offensive nature, in connection with recruitment, initiation, or continued membership in a society, fraternity or sorority, club, or similar organized group, whether or not recognized by the University.’ “

Since the school is still in the middle of the investigation, none of the names that allegedly committed the aforementioned act have been revealed.

The latest incident only adds to the concerns within North Carolina’s athletic department. The NCAA decided June 30 to reopen its investigation into academic irregularities after former UNC basketball player Rashad McCants confirmed the academic improprieties during ESPN’s Outside the Lines.

While these allegations hover over the athletic department, the football team must still prepare for its season opener against the Liberty Flames. The Tar Heels are considered a popular pick to win the ACC’s Coastal division. However, their season could eventually be interrupted by suspensions to multiple players due to foolish actions.

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SEC teams rush to schedule the Kansas Jayhawks

Charlie Weis AP

Kansas Jayhawks football is growing in popularity, albeit for all the wrong reasons.

As conferences attempt to improve their non-conference schedules in order to be more attractive options for the College Football Playoff, the Jayhawks are one of the few teams which play in a Power Five conference that are still classified as a potential “cupcake” on the schedule.

SEC teams, in particular, have been quite interested in scheduling the Jayhawks in recent weeks.

Kansas’ reputation precedes itself. The program can’t escape the fact its 9-39 the past four seasons. And the Jayhawks are expected to finish last in the Big 12 Conference again this season. The program is essentially seen as a loophole in the SEC’s mandate.

The Jayhawks aren’t eager to regularly play against teams from the best conference in college football. And it may be the first time the program can actually turn down requests from other programs.

Schedules are generally created years in advance. The Jayhawks have a full non-conference slate through 2017, and they’re not exactly playing against powerhouse programs. The one team that’s been highly successful the Jayhawks face during that period is the Duke Blue Devils this season.

Kansas does currently have one opening in its non-conference schedule in 2018. And the program has two openings for the 2019 and 2020 season. SEC teams may have to fight over those opportunities to actually play Kansas in the future. At that point, Kansas may be able to leverage a home-and-home series with an SEC program.

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Iowa converts frosh LB to FB due to depth issues

Aaron Mends

In an attempt to build depth in Iowa’s backfield, freshman linebacker Aaron Mends will get a look at fullback, according to The Gazette‘s Marc Morehouse.

The move was necessitated by a season-ending injury to Iowa’s starting fullback, Adam Cox. Mends will now be the team’s only depth at fullback behind junior Macon Plewa.

Mends was considered a three-star recruit as a linebacker, but he doubled as a starting running back in high school. Mends also held offers from Iowa State and North Dakota State.

While the Hawkeyes hope Mends can make the transition to the offensive side of the football, the team certainly doesn’t envision him as their starter this season. Mends is far from a traditional fullback at 200 pounds. The team’s starting tailback, Marc Weisman, is 240 pounds.

This was supposed to be a season for Mends to potentially redshirt and develop as a linebacker. Instead, he’s now one play away from accepting a critical role in the Hawkeyes’ running game.

(Photo courtesy of the University of Iowa athletic department)

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Finally, somebody asked Johnny Manziel for his take on Ohio State

Johnny Manziel

Because inquiring minds want to know, we now have Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel on the record about his state of Ohio State in the fallout of star quarterback Braxton Miller going down for the 2014 season with a right shoulder injury.

“I don’t wish that for anybody,” Manziel said of Miller’s injury, according to Cleveland.com. “So hopefully everything in that situation works out for him. I hope he’s able to get a medical redshirt and be able to play, because first and foremost, I’m a fan of Braxton.”

It should be noted Miller does not need a medical redshirt year. He still has a redshirt year to spare, which will be used this season. Miller underwent successful surgery Tuesday morning. Manziel was also willing to shed some light on what it takes for a redshirt freshman to step into a starting role under center, which is exactly what J.T. Barrett will be doing this fall in Miller’s absence. Manziel, of course, stepped into the spotlight at Texas A&M as a redshirt freshman under different circumstances, but he could still relate.

“Ohio State is obviously a very big deal but, I mean, a (redshirt) freshman coming in and taking over for a program like that, I think he’s got a good situation with Coach [Urban] Meyer being there and being able to put him in good situations to be successful,” Manziel said. “So I think more than anything he needs to depend on him, Coach Meyer, who’s been through it all.”

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UCLA center may be questionable for opener

Deandre Coleman, Jake Brendel

UCLA will start the 2014 season with one of the most hyped quarterbacks around the country with Brett Hundley. But who will be the player responsible for snapping the football into Hundley’s hands? That responsibility has been expected to belong to Jake Brendel, but with the season opener days away there could be some wait and see.

According to an Orange County Register report, Brendel suffered an MCL injury two weeks ago. The severity of the injury is said to be “pretty moderate,” according to the report and head coach Jim Mora has been noncommittal on his playing status for the season opener against Virginia.

Brendel has started 27 straight games for the Bruins and is on the watch lists for the Outland Trophy and Rimington Trophy. He was a team captain last fall and has been named a captain for 2014 as well. If he is unavailable, look to the Bruins to give guard Alex Redmond a shot at the job. He has been taking first team snaps in the middle of the line and Mora has said he has performed well.

“He looks good (at center),” Mora said, per Orange County Register. “Alex could play anywhere up front.”

UCLA gets the season started on Saturday at Virginia at noon eastern.

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Braxton Miller’s surgery goes well

Braxton Miller

Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller underwent surgery on his right shoulder Tuesday morning. All indications are the surgery went well.

Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer was asked for his update on Miller during the weekly Big Ten conference call. Meyer said he had spoken with his quarterback in the morning and was pleased to share there were no surprises and that everything had gone as well as hoped for. Miller will still be out for the 2014 season while he undergoes rehab his shoulder, and he has stated he intends to return to Columbus in 2015. Time will tell if Miller follows through on that plan or decides it is time to take a chance in the NFL Draft rather than risk another season at the college level.

Miller took to his Instagram account to share a photo of him smiling in a cast with Dr. James Andrews hovering above him. Miller is all smiles, which is always a pleasant sight to see for anyone coming out of surgery.

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Tulane’s top running back faces charges over stolen bike

Last week Tulane suspended a top defensive leader for the first half of the first game of the season. Now another key player received a suspension, this time on offense. Running back Robert Kelley is facing criminal charges for simple robbery and simple battery following an incident over a stolen bicycle. Tulane has suspended Kelley indefinitely and his status with the team at this point is unconfirmed.

According to court documents obtained by WWLTV in New Orleans, Kelley was booked August 4 and freed after posting $10,000 bond. He confessed to police to beating another Tulane student and then stealing his bicycle on June 30. The story told by the victim in the incident claims a group of Tulane football players approached he and a friend, when somebody stole his bike and placed it in a portable toilet. Kelley later confessed to his role in attacking the victim and stealing the bike.

“Mr. Kelley became angry and punched (the victim) in his right abdomen area,” Detective Sgt. Scott Meunier reported in the police report, per WWLTV. “(The victim) advised that he fell to the ground in pain and Mr. Kelley jumped on top of him and began to beat him.”

Robert Kelley rushed for 420 yards and three touchdowns last season. With Orleans Darkwa graduating, Kelley is slated to be the Green Wave’s leading rusher back from last season. Kelley sat out most of the spring due to what was reported as an academic issue. He has yet to return to the team with the season kicking off this weekend. He remains on the Tulane roster on the team’s website.

Last week Tulane suspended Royce LaFrance for the first half of this weekend’s season opener against Tulsa.

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Dantonio says Spartans not falling victim to complacency

Mark Dantonio

Michigan State is coming off the best season in school history, at least since Richard Nixon was serving as President of the United States. After knocking off Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship Game and taking down Pac-12 champion Stanford in the Rose Bowl, the Spartans are now embracing life on top of the Big Ten. This has been a process years in the making under head coach Mark Dantonio, and well deserved. In light of recent developments in Columbus, Michigan State is now entering a brand new season as one of the more popular favorites in the Big Ten.

So how does a program that has at times stumbled when things were going well continue to break that mold and prove they are worthy of the preseason hype? For Dantonio, the responsibility falls on his seniors on the roster.

“I think it is senior leadership, the culture you develop in your group,” Dantonio said Tuesday during the weekly Big Ten coaches conference call. Michigan State returns eight seniors in the starting line-up, along with 10 juniors. Michigan State returns 46 lettermen this fall.

“We’re going to find out how we handle the ultimate success of last year,” Dantonio said. “[At] the same time our enthusiasm has been good, our mindset has been good.”

Michigan State is starting the season with the highest preseason AP ranking since opening the 1967 season ranked third in the nation. The Spartans also have the highest preseason ranking in the coaches poll since 1991, when the poll was first administered. The Spartans open the 2014 season Friday night with the first game against an FCS opponent in school history, Jacksonville State.

Michigan State travels to Oregon in week two.

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Auburn depth chart lists Marshall, Mincy with first team

Nick Marshall

Auburn’s official depth chart for the first game of the 2014 season (vs. Arkansas) has been released, but there are only a few points worth raising an eyebrow over.

It is probably unwise to read too much into depth charts, but quarterback Nick Marshall and cornerback Jonathan Mincy are each listed with the first team. Neither player will get the start for the defending SEC champions though, following off-field troubles during the offseason. Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn has said Marshall will play in the season opener. The head coach is not showing his cards with that decision, and it will likely be publicly unknown how it is handled until the game is underway. Marshall was cited for marijuana possession and so was Mincy.

At quarterback, Jeremy Johnson is listed second on the depth chart and is expected to get the start for the Tigers. How long until he is removed from the game in favor of Marshall remains a question. Joshua Holeey is listed behind Mincy on the defensive depth chart as well. It is also unconfirmed how long Mincy will have to sit out until being sent onto the field for Auburn.

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Detroit bowl game gets a new title sponsor too

Quick Lane Bowl

The Bahamas Bowl was not the only bowl game to receive a new title sponsor today. The new bowl game in Detroit, not to be confused with the bowl game previously held in the Motor City, received a new title sponsor as well. Say hello to the Quick Lane Bowl.

The Detroit Lions are organizing the new bowl game in Detroit, which replaces the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl. Having a local industry partner was important for the Lions. Staying true to the roots of the old Motor City Bowl, a partner in the auto industry seemed like a logical choice from the start.

“With a national platform to showcase the city of Detroit as well as Southeast Michigan football tradition, it was important for us to partner with an organization like Quick Lane who has a strong local and national presence,” said Detroit Lions President Tom Lewand, per a press release. “We look forward to collaborating to institute a great bowl game tradition at Ford Field for years to come.”

The game, featuring teams from the ACC and Big Ten, will be played December 26.

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